Downtown Helena Soap Box Derby returning with additional safety measures

Nolan Lister

Helena’s inaugural Septemberfest Soap Box Derby was cut short after a spectator who was hit by one of the homemade vehicles was taken away in an ambulance. 

Helena’s Septemberfest Soap Box Derby is set to return Saturday for its second year, and event organizers say this year’s race boasts increased safety measures.

Hosted by Downtown Helena Inc. and Point S Tire & Auto Service, the derby features racers in homemade vehicles careening down Sixth Avenue from the Helena Area Chamber of Commerce building to the Last Chance Gulch Walking Mall.

The 2021 derby ended abruptly after one of the vehicles ran off the course and struck a spectator, who was transported by ambulance to St. Peter’s Health.

Several drivers of the ramshackle vehicles made of household items like bicycle tires and plywood were thrown from the driver’s seat during the downhill race, and at least one of the vehicles rolled upside down.

With the lone emergency medical technician transporting the injured spectator, last year’s race was cut short.

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